Snowy weather in the Czech Republic is continuing to complicate the situation on Czech roads as well as cause power outages. Areas most affected by snow include the regions of Hradec Kralove and Liberec, where falling trees caused severe power cuts. Icy weather has also caused disruptions of rail links as well as dozens of road accidents. Snowy conditions are expected to last at least until this weekend.
Prague’s Speaker’s Corner on Palacky Square in the city centre, where protestors need no formal license or permission to gather, will be moved elsewhere. Prague City Hall has begun negotiations with local authorities on relocating the site, arguing that possible meetings could cause traffic disruptions in the city. This Saturday, right-wing extremists are to gather on Palacky Square in reaction to their failure to march through Prague’s Jewish quarter last weekend.
The third annual Prague Short Film Festival starts in Prague’s Svetozor cinema on Wednesday evening. The competition and non-competition sections will present the best short films created over the last year by young filmmakers from all over the world, as well as a selection of films by renowned directors.
The Christian Democratic Party has decided to appoint the head of the Government Legislative Council Cyril Svoboda as a temporary head of the Local Development Ministry. Mr Svoboda would remain in the post, until the party finds a successor to Jiri Cunek, who resigned last week. The Christian Democrats have a number of candidates for the post, including first deputy local development minister Jiri Vackar.
The preferences of the two strongest Czech parties, the ruling Civic Democrats and the opposition Social Democrats, have levelled, according to a poll conducted by the STEM agency in November. The latest data indicate that the Civic Democrats are supported by 27.5 % of the questioned while the Social Democrats by 26.9 %. The preferences of the opposition Communists and the ruling coalition Green party have slightly increased to 12.1 and 9.4 % respectively.
A unique exhibition on the life and era of Czech nobleman, politician and army commander Albrecht of Wallenstein is set to open at the site of the Wallenstein Riding School on the grounds of the Czech Senate. The exhibition, marking the 425th anniversary of Wallenstein’s birth, includes never-before publicly viewed pieces from his period. The show, organized by the Military Historical Institute and the National Museum, will be held into 2008.
The Czech government included another 17 localities in south Moravia into the proposed list of Natura 2000 European nature reserves, at the request of the European Commission. A total of 800 localities of rare plants and animals in the country are to be included in the list. The state is to guarantee their protection and considerate economic use. Among the newly proposed reserves are the Lednice ponds and the Dyje River meanders.
The Czech government will not back up Social Democrats’ proposal to introduce direct presidential elections, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said after the cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Mr Topolanek said the introduction of the popular vote was unfeasible without previous negotiations. Nevertheless, the government is ready to discuss the issue, as two of the three ruling parties, the Greens and the Christian Democrats, support the idea. Even if the cabinet supported the amendment to the Constitution, the popular vote would fall into consideration only in 2013.
Members of the Czech branch of Greenpeace gathered outside the Czech Government Office on Wednesday morning to stage a scene mocking the government’s approach to the U.S. plan to build radar on Czech territory as part of a broader missile defense system. The event opened a Greenpeace campaign presenting the organisation’s view on the U.S. project. The radar base, to complement a missile base in neighbouring Poland, is to be positioned in the Brdy military area some 90 km southwest of Prague. The Czech government is currently negotiating with the U.S. - a final decision is to be taken next year.
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has ruled that the Czech Republic discriminated against 18 Romany children by forcing them to attend special schools. The state will have to pay each of them 108, 000 crowns (4,000 euros) in compensation. The verdict overturns an earlier ruling according to which the Roma families had no cause for complaint since these special schools were also attended by non-Roma children with learning difficulties. The Roma families who waged a 9-year long court battle over their children’s rights said they had almost given up hope of a verdict in their favour. The ruling is likely to set an important precedent.
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Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott